Macaroons with Cream

This recipe is a little tricky. The title leads you to believe the “sweet biscuit type” macaroons are to be served with a cream sauce. However, in reality this author uses macaroni instead. Macaroni was very expensive during the 18th century because the Italians were the only people with the machinery to make the “foreign paste.”

18th Century

These are to be had at any confectioner’s shop in London, and the newer they are the better; boil in water only till very tender, to half a pint of cream put half a spoonful of flour, some sugar and nutmeg, with a morsel of salt, stir it over the fire till it is thickish, cool it, and put in the yolks of three eggs, and a morsel of oiled new butter, stir it well together, and put in your macaroons, put a nice little rim of puff paste round your dish, pour in your ingredients, and put it to bake little sugar over it, and serve to the table. This is not what we call macaroons of the sweet biscuit sort, but a foreign paste, the same as vermicelli, but made very large in comparison to that.

Verral, Verral’s Complete System of Cookery, p.119

21st Century

  • 4 oz. ziti
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup cream (you may substitute skim milk or low fat cream)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter (¼ stick)
  • Puff pastry for 9” pie plate
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Boil pasta in water for 8 to 10 minutes until tender. Rinse and drain.
  3. In a saucepan, combine cream, flour 1 Tbsp. sugar, and nutmeg. Stir over medium heat until mixture thickens.
  4. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring butter in until it is melted and blended. Let cool.
  5. Whip egg yolks and add to the mixture. Beat until smooth and well blended.
  6. Add rinsed pasta to sauce mixture. Stir well and pour into puff pastry.
  7. Bake in 375°F oven for 20 minutes. Top should be golden and custard fairly firm.
  8. Remove from oven and sprinkle 1 Tbsp. sugar over the top. Serve.

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12 Responses to “Macaroons with Cream”

  1. February 1st, 2011

    suzie dye says:

    looks great. Thank you I will try it….Suzie

  2. February 17th, 2011

    pam williams says:

    Was there a reason you chose to use ziti instead of plain, garden variety macaroni? Just wondering….

    • February 17th, 2011

      Historic Foodways says:

      We actually were trying to show the fact that the English called all pastas macaroni. Today there are hundreds of pasta shapes and each have a separate name. It does not appear that was the case two hundred years ago. Back then, they were all called macaroni or macaroons so the terminology is not clear. It is also likely the pasta molds of the period were not as refined and probably tended to larger sizes then today’s very small pastas.

  3. February 23rd, 2011

    I made this right after the CW Foodways Conference and it is very very good. I wasn’t really expecting the sweetness of the dish.

  4. February 27th, 2011

    Jo Ann Ptack says:

    This was very good, easy to prepare and great fun to serve.

  5. March 25th, 2011

    Barbara Crankshaw says:

    If all pasta was referred to as macaroni, when did the name macaroon become attached to the coconut cookie?

  6. March 28th, 2011

    Historic Foodways says:

    The name macaroon came before the cookie, and those cookies were not made of coconut. In fact, we haven’t found any mention of coconut in period cookbooks from England. The original macaroon was a small cake or cookie made of almonds. In his cookbook “A cooks paradise,” William Verral writes in the macaroni recipe that it is not the confection sold in London pastry shops but a foreign paste, or crust, formed into shape. So apparently there was some confusion even in the 18th century.

    I ran across a recipe today for a macaroni soup. It says, ” Take a half a pound of small pipe macaroni and boil it in three quarts of water with a little butter in it until it is tender; strain it through a sieve; cut it in pieces about two inches long.” (Hanna Glasse, Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1794.)
    This indicates that macaroni came in long pipes: perhaps the length of modern linguini that then was cut into smaller pieces. This would go a long way to explaining why there is no real standard size, because everyone cut them to the size they wanted. It may also explain why all pipe pastas are called macaroni, regardless of size, because they were all cut from the same long tube.


  7. March 30th, 2011

    pam williams says:

    In the 18th century receipt, one ingredient is “oiled butter.” What is that? Separated butter, or melted?

    • April 1st, 2011

      Historic Foodways says:

      In fact, it says “a morsel of oiled new butter.” To be honest I don’t know exactly what that is supposed to mean. I guess from the context that melted is most likely, but it could just as easily mean clarified. Your guess is as good as mine on that one.

      This might be a good time to point out that there are lots of mysteries in the 18th century art of cookery that we may never fully know the answer to. This challenge is what keeps us coming back to study these recipes again and again. One for the most interesting parts of doing this blog for the foodways staff is realizing that each of us has their own interpretation of what these recipes are saying, and some cases they may be very different.


  8. August 15th, 2011

    Jen Dolde says:

    I am inspired to make this and many other dishes after my recent visit to CW and to build my historic cookbook collection. Although I’m an agricultural historian, I’m relatively new to foodways research. Did 18th c. cooks have their own version of puff pastry or might they have used a pie-type crust (perhaps made with lard or butter)? Perhaps you can point me to a period pastry recipe. Baking is my special interest. Keep up the great work on this blog.

    • August 16th, 2011

      Historic Foodways says:

      The cookbooks we work with have 4 main types of crust they primarily used. They were all butter-based because lard was only available in the cool times of the year.

      1. Cold Crust
      This is the basic crust and very easy to make. Mix 1 pound flour, 1/4 pound butter, an egg and approximately a cup of water.

      2. Puff Past
      The basic cold crust is rolled out into a big square and a strip of shaved butter is laid in the middle. The crust is folded up into a small square and rolled out flat. The process is repeated until the rest of the pound of butter is worked in layers. This is the preferred pastry crust of the time in English cookbooks and is called for in many recipes.

      3. Sweet Paste
      Similar to the cold crust but with a quarter to half pound of sugar added to it. This is often called for in sweet pastries and tarts.

      4. Coffin Pastry
      These are hard flour baking vessels, usually just flour and salt and a bit of melted butter mixed with water. These are not for eating, and bake very hard into usually highly-decorated large shapes. They were filled with meat and the like, baked, and then taken to the table were the guest would break the lid open and scoop out the filling and then throw away the crust. Elaborate and wasteful recipes like these begin to fade out when the English porcelain industry starts to make oven to table wear that can take the heat of baking.

      I think complete directions to making all of these crusts are in Hanna Glass’s “Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.”

      Frank Clark

  9. November 12th, 2012

    KansasKate says:

    It was interesting reading about this dish and fun (and easy) to make. I did make a couple of substitutions: I had been wanting to try a mix-in-pie-plate crust recipe, so I used it instead of puff pastry. And I used colored pasta which I had on hand, which isn’t period-appropriate but it saved me a trip to store for zitti. (Since there are just 2 of us, I made two small pies — one to keep, one to gift.)

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